Over a month has passed since municipal councils and school boards across the province were elected. On December 1st, South Dundas’ council was sworn in to office for its 2018-22 term. For many, it has been a very long wait between election day and inauguration. Too long in fact.
Since the close of nominations in July, municipal council has been in a lame duck situation: unless they were already budgeted for, financial decision could not be made. Some key issues had to remain unresolved.
When the Municipal Act was amended by the provincial government, the length of the writ period for municipal elections was shortened. The time between election and inauguration should have been shortened as well. Municipalities across the province have had their elected representatives in holding patterns, with the decision making process largely paralyzed. A shorter transition period should be under consideration.
In South Dundas, voters opted for change. Four-fifths of council was replaced. A shorter transition period would have allowed the new council to hit the ground running. The transition time, as it is, may allow for more for more time for preparation, but it does not allow any real action to be taken. To expedite the process of getting down to business, the 2018-22 council held its inauguration at a special separate meeting. Consequently, the first regular meeting of council is just that, a regular meeting.
What key issues face this council? Some are unresolved issues from the past council: the Carman House tenancy issue: the future of Forward House; the Iroquois outdoor rink building. Next up are even bigger issues like water tower replacements, the long-standing crisis in municipal landfills, the Iroquois Campground building project, and a stagnant business incubator project partnership involving Ross Video and the Upper Canada District School Board. Down the road there will be issues involving municipal facilities, a roads plan, and a plan to address the infrastructure deficit in South Dundas.
Voters have high expectations for their new council. A month may not seem like a long time, but given the challenges facing these elected officials, they will need all the time they can get.